Category Archives: Christmas
I’m a bit rough on Saint Paul VI, who gave an address in Nazareth on 5 January 1964 in which he spoke wonderfully about the Holy Family. Perhaps I’m jaded, but I thought it was too sweet about the Holy Family, too nice, too peaceful, too calm, too silent, so contemplative, so prayerful. I’m sure he meant all that in an innocuous manner. But whatever his good and holy intentions, well, I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. I make that really quite clear.
Also, when I get on a rant like this, all worked up, I might make brave in attributing things to those to whom they don’t belong. I don’t know if it was in this particular recorded homily or another the same day in which I attributed the phrase “field hospital” not only to Pope Francis but also perhaps to Saint John Paul II, et al. Sorry about that. Don’t get stuck on that kind of thing. I’m getting older. Forgive me. The point is about holiness embracing chaos for holiness’ sake, you know, like Jesus stretching out His arms to embrace us… on the cross… And this chaos started at His birth and never stopped…
Paul VI did, of course, make plenty of great points about the spiritual life and the correct priorities in life we should all have. I agree with all those. But still, it set me into rant mode. Here’s that address of Paul VI. You might want to read over it before listening to the homily. Perhaps I go into rant mode because Paul VI, a saint, flies right over my head and I just don’t get what he’s on about.
From an address by Saint Paul VI, pope
(Nazareth, January 5, 1964) Nazareth, a model
Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel. Here we can observe and ponder Continue reading
I received a proclamation of “Touché” from the reader who sent in the previous Smart Alec dish towel for the answer I gave in response. Here:
But that admission was just to set me off guard and give me a false sense of confidence, as I was then immediately countered by… this other dish towel above.
There is also an entirely good explanation for the flabbergastery bluster going on here. This has nothing to do with any assertion that you could never find anywhere in the entire world a wise man, much less three of them, and at the same time and place. No.
This is all about there being only three wise men of all the uncountable wise men in all the world who showed up. Only three?!!!? Yes, but there is also an explanation for that. All the other wise men are busy trying to teach all the women folk how to be wise…
[[ I can see that this is not going anywhere good anywhere fast… How do I get out of this?… I haven’t been very wise… ]]
I was at the door of a parishioner’s house last evening, and was very taken by this Christmas scene that had been tacked up there. So joyful. So peaceful. I note that all the animals, including the donkey, have their ears back, listening for any danger that might disturb their Almighty Creator so humbly come among us. The donkey is a professional at this. All donkeys are Guard-Donkeys. Oh, by the way, I was the donkey at the door. If you look closely, you’ll see that there are two donkeys pictured in the picture.
This was sent in to Arise! Hmmm… Let’s take a look at that… [The one who sent this in, BTW, has a great sense of humor, and won’t mind a bit that I’m fisking this dish cloth hanging in front of the stove. What I say, although incisive, will I hope, also bring about a wee laugh.]
- Three Wise Women would have ignored the guiding star instead asking directions to a place they had no idea where it was and so couldn’t ask directions and so would get themselves into trouble, at the least being sold into slavery…
- Three Wise Women, in ignoring the star and so arriving in what they themselves think is on time – they being so wise – would have instead messed up the divine providence of the timing so that Herod would have been successful in killing Jesus with all the boys of Bethlehem two years old and under…
- Three Wise Women would have tried to help the deliver the baby, which, instead of being born in the normal way, had a miraculous birth, much like how Jesus Himself walked right through the closed and locked doors of the Upper Room after the Resurrection, and this would have made them upset, because, you know, they came all that way…
- Because of being upset with the miraculous birth, the three Wise Women would have ignored the moment and purposely busied themselves with the feces of the animals, because that’s the most important thing at the moment. We should call to mind that when Jesus’ good mom appeared to Bernadette in Lourdes, it was in the cave filled with pig-feces, symbolic of what was going on in Lourdes at the time. Mary is used to humble circumstances, and in being in solidarity with us, even standing under the Cross in all the violence, in the … feces of our sins.
- Three Wise Women would have made a casserole, ignoring Hebrew dietary laws but bullying their way along, making everyone sad…
- Three Wise Women wouldn’t realize the most practical thing in the world is to pray, not doing the Martha thing running about in frantic mode, but doing the Mary thing, at the feet of Jesus, in this case listening to His baby cooing.
- Instead of gold for a king as a symbol of His good providence in governance for the poor ones of His little flock, the three Wise Women would have started a much more practical interest-bearing bank account, perhaps with Herod. Who else?
- Instead of frankincense for The Priest as a symbol of how He would offer Himself in sacrifice for us, the Innocent for guilty, and so having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, the three Wise Women would have given him Febreze™ Plug In Scents to suffocate the smells of the cave.
- Instead of Myrrh used for the burial of a corpse – such as Jesus would surely be in speaking the Truth and thus being killed off like any prophet – the three Wise Women would have gifted Him normal spices that they could mix up in the casserole they themselves would eat.
And all this – let us be most clear – NOT because they are women, but because these three individual women would proclaim themselves as being wise (which the three kings never did), ending up, in their lack of wisdom, rejecting the entire economy of salvation to put themselves in front of everyone, drawing attention to themselves, you know, all in the name of Feminism, which brings the peace of a mere lack of war, what with everyone being dead already, instead of the sword of division which Jesus in His perfect wisdom came to bring, a sword of truth which instead brings us to reality, to repentance, to forgiveness, and therefore to love and respect for others, unto truth and the joy of the Holy Spirit, and therefore unto the true peace of Heaven. Jesus is the Prince of the Most Profound Peace. I’ll stick with His ways so far above the ways of any of us who think we are wise. We have all sinned against Him whom we have all pierced. We have all thought ourselves to be wise… So… Jesus is the One. He’s the only One.
Having said all that, I have to say that that dish towel perfectly sums up the Benedictine sisters I had for teachers when I was kid, that is, after 1968 and into the early 1970s. Yikes!
The Christmas blessing Urbi et Orbi (to the City and the World). There’s a plenary indulgence with this, even through, by concession the modern means of social communication.
Happy Merry Christmas!
- I don’t have anything much in common with eOR (an onomatopoeia-esque name, or more precisely, echomimetic), except when he entirely almost honestly tries to be humble, kind of. That’s me, always tempted to be self-congratulatory. eOR, my friend. I pray? No. I flip that first letter up and I just bray. In fact, I make a thing of it, singing my braying as if that were something meritorious:
- Saint Nick, or Santa Claus, or Saint Nicolas, or Sinterklaas, that is, Νίκη-λαός (Conqueror of the People) was a Roman Catholic Bishop in Myra in Asia Minor, modern day Demre, Turkey. The modern day Saint Nick still sports the red vestments of the original saint. The canonized Saint Nicolas lived way back in the days of the early Roman Empire (270-343 A.D.). His feast day on the liturgical calendar is the day he died, December 6. He’s famous for gift giving, and over the centuries was mixed up with the gift-giving wise men at the cave in Bethlehem at the birth of the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace whom they had traveled so far to bow down and offer homage. Then Epiphany, when the wisemen showed up, was confused with Christmas day itself, so that Saint Nick or Santa Claus became the iconic gift giver at Christmas, basically the whole world being Catholic. In these days of absolute idiocy today – some 16 and 17 hundred years later, we would do well to remember what the great saint’s gifts were way back in the day. He rescued three girls from being pimped out by their fathers into prostitution by tossing a little sack of gold coins through their windows so that their proper dowries could be paid. But what I equally like about him is the account of his physically smashing down the horrific heretic of heretics, the priest Arius, during the First Council of Nicaea. Hahaha. That must have been a great show. Hahaha. That’s a great gift to the Church! I love Saint Nicolas the Conqueror of Arius.
- It used to be that Christmas was a time for the joy of giving gifts. Imagine seeing the joy of the girls whose dowry was paid, so that they could marry the love of their lives instead of being smashed down and surely killed off after a short time in the ever violent and hellish world of prostitution. But it’s also not about us “getting something out of it, you know, that fuzzy warm feeling. It’s about real charity, helping someone up out of love of God and neighbor. Here’s the essential of it: We’re not supposed to look to our heroes like Saint Nick for the gifts they give us, but rather for how they give an example which we strive to imitate: love God and neighbor!
- But now it’s all about entitlement in receiving gifts. Hmmm. That ain’t no good. In that case, we end up like eOR above, trying to brag about how good we’ve been and not naughty, conniving to look cute as we go from “I’ve been good” to “better than most” to “not as bad as some.” Doesn’t cut it.
Here’s the deal: Unlike eOR, the saints have it that they themselves are the worst sinners of all, for God loves us also individually and Jesus has stood in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, also individually, so that only I have sinned against Him and therefore only I can be the absolute worst sinner of all before Him. He loves me… and I myself offended Him. When Jesus lays down His life for us, He doesn’t do that because we’ve somehow successfully proven to Him, to society and to ourselves that we’re already wonderful, that we don’t need Him to lay down His life for us so as to have the right in His own justice to save us. He does this because He love us before we have loved Him. When we realize this we are stricken with awe, with love, with thanksgiving, much like the soldier on Calvary who thrust his sword into the side of Jesus, only then saying: “Truly this Man was the Son of God.”
When it comes to Confession, not to Santa Claus but to Jesus in the Confessional, we’re simply just to make a Confession that has four aspects starting with the letter “C”:
- Complete – all mortal sins in kind and number and important circumstance (so that a young man who kills and old man is a grave sin, but that old man is the young man’s father, that’s an important circumstance that needs to be confessed as it involves yet another mortal sin against honoring one’s parents). Thus, an act of impurity is a mortal sin, but it is worse if this is done with another, leading another into sin, and yet still worse if one or both are married (thus adultery), and so on.
- Concise: DON’T give unimportant details. Priests don’t want to hear it. Don’t tell the priest the sins of others. This is a terrible abuse of the sacrament. Priests don’t want to hear it. Don’t tell the priest all your excuses, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Seriously: priests don’t wan’t to hear all this blather. Look, when you go before the judgment of the Lord, you will not be able to give any excuses or blame anyone else for your sin. It’s much better to confess now, honestly, and go to heaven, than to trick the priest now (which you don’t) and then go to hell later.
- Contrite: Be sorry for your sins at least at the level of imperfect contrition, wherein you dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. Try to have perfect contrition, by which your sorry for having offended God’s love for you, for He is worthy of all of our love. We have to have a firm purpose of amendment of life to be truly sorry in whatever way for our sins. We can’t intend to sin again. We have to have hope. We have to desire not to sin again. Confessing is to be done in the past tense: “I blasphemed God five times. I’m sorry to God.” Confessing is not to be done in the present or future tense: “I do blaspheme God and I will continue to do so.” That doesn’t make sense, does it? No. Neither does shacking up with someone, not being repentant of that, but wanting absolution for one’s own feelings so that one can feel holy and self-congratulatory and self-righteous in going to Holy Communion, but only ending up, as Saint Paul says, eating and drinking one’s own condemnation. So: “I resolve to amend my life. Amen.”
- Clear: “I did something bad.” Nope. Just say it. Jesus already knows, but He want’s us to be reconciled to God and neighbor (the priest represents all others through his ordination to Jesus’ Priesthood) at the same time:
- If we love, we love the whole Body of Christ, Jesus the Head of the Body and neighbor the members of the Body. It’s one act of love for the whole Body of Christ. We don’t decapitate Him and say we love God!
- If we sin, we sin against the whole Body of Christ, Jesus the Head of the Body and neighbor the members of the Body. It’s one act of sin, however public or however private, against the whole Body of Christ. We don’t decapitate Him and say we love God because we only sinned against ourselves or our neighbors. It’s the whole Body of Christ that we offend.
- If we are reconciled, we are reconciled with the entire Body of Christ, Jesus the Head and we the members. We say we’re sorry to the whole Body of Christ, through the priest who represents all others and gives us the absolution of Jesus, of God, in the first person singular: “I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son ✚ and of the Holy Spirit.” Just as with love and sin, reconciliation is brought about in one only act for the entire Body of Christ.
And this is what brings one such great joy when one has actually made a good Confession, an integral, honest Confession. We stand forgiven. We’re on our way to heaven. We are filled with great joy. This is the joy of the Holy Spirit who was sent among for the forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness is brought about by the Holy Spirit flooding us with sanctifying grace. There’s no room for the guilt. We are then tabernacles of the Holy Spirit. We bear in our mortal frame the presence of the Most Holy Trinity. We are now eager to live love: “If you love me, keep the commandments” says Jesus to each of us, each of us, also to me, to you. Chaste lives, self-giving lives, honest lives, lives in which Jesus Himself shines out, His goodness, His kindness, His truth.
When we suddenly realize the greatness of the Lord’s majesty, the love and truth behind the wounds also on His risen body, that He will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, we also instantly recognize just how far away we ourselves have been, perhaps enough that we reject the cuteness of eOR above, and actually find ourselves on our knees for a good Christmas Confession.
So… eOR… we might ride eOR to the Confessional, contemplating as we go our rationalizations, but then when we get into the Confessional, much better not to sing like eOR, composing scenarios and operettas, but instead just laying it out our sins, simply, in all humility, before Jesus, with those wounds upon Him, Jesus, ever so good, ever so kind, always the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. Amen.
Both neighbors are firefighters. They talk about a “far” that needs a fightin’. This, however, was sent in by a 25 year vet of the Sheriff’s Department. There is a rivalry between firefighters and law enforcement…
Don’t think I haven’t ever been in the habit of reading the Roman Martyrology daily. With that in mind…
Proclamation of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ:
THE TWENTY-FIFTH DAY OF DECEMBER:
- when ages beyond number had run their course from the creation of the world, when God in the beginning created heaven and earth, and formed man in his own likeness;
- when century upon century had passed since the Almighty set His bow in the clouds after the great flood as a sign of covenant and peace;
- in the twenty-first century since Abraham, our Father in Faith, came out of Ur of the Chaldees;
- in the thirteenth century since the people of Israel were led by Moses in the exodus from Egypt;
- around the thousandth year since David was anointed king;
- in the sixty-fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel;
- in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
- in the year seven hundred and fifty-two since the foundation of the city of Rome;
- in the forty-second year in the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus…
… the whole world being at peace…
- Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the Eternal Father, desiring to consecrate the world by His most loving presence, was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
- and when nine months had passed since His conception, was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah,
- and was made man…
THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE FLESH.
/// That’s nice Styrofoam. All true. But lies are cloaked in truth, right? Lies can come about through telling part of the truth, looking fulsome, but actually omitting, well, really, pretty much everything, but – Hey! – leaving people with nice feelings! “Jesus is nice and even as maybe perhaps as important as Caesar ’cause He’s mentioned along with Caesar! That’s nice!
I suppose people will think I’m a shallow heretic and a dullard in that I can’t appreciate the intervention of the Word Incarnate in human history at just the right time, and that that’s the point of the Roman Martyrology’s account, and that not everything can always and in every way say everything and therefore I should just cool my jets and appreciate what is presented for what it’s worth and just get over it. After all, there are words like “covenant” and “consecrate” and stuff like that there. And tinkeritis must be avoided at all costs, even regarding some rather ill phrased matters about our salvation, because, you know, we’re used to it. But even the intensely devout are not assisted in their faith by such words as “covenant” and “consecrate” when other words are purposely omitted by self-congratulatory intelligentia who do know more but are too smug to JUST SAY WHAT WE NEED TO HEAR.
I’m an equal opportunity disdainer of tender snowflake dumbing down wherever I find it, whether after or even before Vatican II. And anyway, what dullard made Vatican II the absolute center of human history, replacing the Incarnate Word? Sound’s blasphemous to me, and also ignorant. I mean, most heresies came about before Vatican II and most were presented in – oooo! – Latin!!! Now that I’ve successfully made people angry, let’s make the point (I only mention here a couple of possible tweakings):
- What if we were to have a Roman Martyrology that actually presented the faith?
- What if the history of the proclamation were to mention – even if only in just a few words – the vicious sin of Adam bringing death and hellish mayhem into the world, handing us over to Satan?
- What if we were to speak of, say, the binding of the son of Abraham to the wood of the sacrifice as prefiguring of the Redeemer’s violent death to come?
- What if we were to recount the unworthiness of David to have a future Son that would save us from our unworthiness, saving us from… wait for it… SIN?
- What if we were to speak of the lust for violent power of now secular leaders?
- What if we were to say that – I mean, it pains me to say this as it should be obvious – what if we were to say that it is precisely because THE WHOLE WORLD WAS NOT AT PEACE that the Prince of the Most Profound Peace came to save us from that state of NOT being at peace?
- What if we were to tell the truth for once, that there is sin and the Jesus was born to redeem us, save us from sin, that He was born to die and then rise to bring us to life, to the eternal life we did NOT have?
/// I can just hear it now, you know, all the condemnations:
- We’ve done just fine with being dumbed down, with escaping reality! Stop trying to evangelize us! We’re nice with what we’ve always had! Leave. Us. Alone.
- And then: You’re a heretic for trying to say that what we’ve always had isn’t quite up to what it should be! Stop it!
Meanwhile, do you know who wasn’t so taken with being clever with dumbed down religious and secular history? The angels knew: it was certain little shepherd boys. And, I have to say, this donkey-priest just loves this:
This is a 1968 Disney animated film, which has more sense than the Roman Martyrology. Listen to the narrator. If you didn’t catch it, little Aaron is repentant of his own SIN of hatred (after the horrific violence that took place in his own life), SIN representing the eons of SIN and hatred that sets the backdrop for Jesus to come into this world so as to save us from SIN, He, Jesus, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, yes, that little Babe in the manger. The faith isn’t about our sense – our feelings – of security with the way we’ve always had mere stuff like a book. The faith is about the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God’s Divine Son Jesus saving us from a world which was being up to anything except for peace. Obvious, right? Nope. We have to say it: Jesus is the One; Jesus as the only One saving us from sin.
♬ Pah-rum-pa-pum-pum. ♬
It’s what priests do, you know, when they are with those who are on the peripheries of society and family or friends are not available for whatever reason. We are called upon to “identify the body” at the mortuary. It’s a legal exercise. There are forms to fill out, IDs to be photocopied and put on record, signatures to be scrawled. I’m sure many of you have had the experience.
Jesus didn’t come to be born among us because we were all effervescent and nice and without the consequences of original sin such as sickness and death and suffering the aggression of others whilst we remain in exile on this earth and away from heaven (as we must hope). He came among us because of the violence and darkness and hell and, yes, death all around us and we ourselves dropping into the grave. He was born in a cave to be buried in a cave, and then rise and bring us to life.
So, does the visit to the mortuary become a downer, as is said, just before Christmas? Not at all. It instead puts an edge on Christmas. We know all the better by experience why it is that Jesus came among us. It’s an occasion to say:
Thank you Jesus for coming into this world amidst all of our death and destruction. Thank you for forgiving us and bringing us close to you, unto heaven. Thank you.
I get terribly nostalgic at Christmas time, as it should be. Wouldn’t the good shepherds who watched their flocks by night recount when the Christ Child was sent, their fear and trembling when they received the announcement and then saw the heavens break open and heard the choirs of angels sing? Wouldn’t they have spoken in hushed tones full of reverence and awe as they called to mind the humble scene of the animals and the manger, the little babe in swaddling clothes, the gentle virgin and attentive Joseph, the singing of the angels still resounding joyfully in their ears?
As they put on some years they would be looking the wood of the manger become the wood of the cross, at least figuratively speaking. They would understand that this Child was, in fact, born to die, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, Himself the Shepherd who doesn’t run away.
I can’t help but put up these videos from a long defunct blog of mine, videos which travel along the cliffs of Mount Carmel that run underneath Elijah’s cave. Ah, yes, the dire circumstances of the cave at his birth, and the dire circumstances of the cavernous sepulcher at His death. But then the Resurrection.
And He is with us with a love stronger than death, a love bringing us through death to heaven, those eternal habitations.
I mean, there have even been documentaries about Fruit Cake being gifted, only to be re-gifted indefinitely, for decades, one even since the late 1800s.
Fruit Cake was not at all my favorite as a kid. More recently it has grown on me, so to speak, which is why I’m on a Keto diet at present. My goal is 190, but numerous people tell me that would be a mistake, that ideally 210s would be a healthy weight. In that case, I’ve reached about the midway point. It’s one month today, with so far 20-25 lbs lost.
Security, then the lead in…
Of course, our small town marching band:
I love seeing this guy…
Were a happy lot, so the angels dance…
Of course, there were a zillion secular entries, and politicians, and all the first responders, and really loud sports cars all lit up and everyone throwing candy – tons of candy – to all the kids.
The police also closed the parade.
Very pleasant altogether. Now, time for Mass, for God so loved the world that He sent His only Son…
Did you know that Christmas means Christ was sent?
Our Heavenly Father eternally speaks The Word, expressing Himself, His Love, His Truth, with this one Word. The love between them: the Holy Spirit. The Father loved us so much that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, redeeming us, providing salvation, with the Holy Spirit being sent for the forgiveness of sin by way of flooding us with sanctifying grace, making us members of the Body of Christ. The Immaculate Virgin’s Divine Son wants to give us a gift to our Heavenly Father through, with and in Himself.
When the Little Drummer Boy is too professional I feel like I’m in the palace of Herod. This is just kids doing their best. I like the kneeling at the last second. Hah.
Seen during a Communion Call.
Can you guess the hymn played by this modern drummer boy?
Ordination anniversary card.
And it’s still Christmas…